HEMI HEMINGWAY: The Lonely Hunter EP.

19 06 2021

There’ve been some remarkable records released this year so far, and one in particular that stands out is the debut EP by Shaun Blackwell aka Hemi Hemingway. It’s a gorgeous and romantic EP, and it explores every emotion possible in the most open way possible. If you’re looking for a record that will break your heart, comfort you and just leave you in awe; then The Lonely Hunter is for you.

The record opens with the euphoric Burnin’ Blue. It’s a sad one, but one to really love. You get a 60s Wall of Sound feel from this record, and Burnin’ Blue captures it so well. It is such a strong way to open the record with. These six songs are just a pleasure to listen to, and you cannot help but get lost in Shaun’s voice.

If you’ve heard Shaun’s previous projects such as Night Shades, then you’ll just be stunned by his change in style. His vocals as part of Night Shades gives you a feel of The Cramps but his new project is something else. He just combines everything I love about music, and makes something you’ve never heard before.

I love the sadness in It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye. It reminds me of a cross between Ezra Furman and Shannon and The Clams. Then you get right into the titled track, and you cannot help but gently sway your body side to side in time with this precious love song. I adore the way Shaun shares his influences on this record, but also makes it so current and so relatable. It’s a different side to him, but the same passion. It is just such a joy to listen to and to just soak up these hypnotic sounds that will become part of you. The titled track is just a heartbreaking one, and the pining in Shaun’s voice is remarkable. There’s a desperation there, but not in a way that makes you shy away from it. If anything, it just makes you relate to it even more. It is a perfect record.

Hemi’s Lament has a touch of Leonard Cohen on it, but what I love about this record is that you could easily think you’ve found a record from decades ago. It does feel current but at the same time it feels like you’ve been thrown way back in time. It is such a poetic and vulnerable record. I love the way Shaun has explored what influences him and has also experimented so much on this record. In just six songs, he has made something that stands out. It is such a pure record and it’s one that you feel you’ll keep going back to. For me, it’s the kind of record you have playing in the background as you sit in your favourite chair whilst nursing as cup of tea or a whiskey. It’s got something about it that would sound perfect in a film. You know the film Lucky that starred the great Harry Dean Stanton? This record would have been perfect for it. Shaun could easily soundtrack a film, and this record justifies this perfectly.

Move Over Darling reminds me a tiny bit of Johnny Tillotson (if you don’t know who he was, you are missing out. Underrated- severely!) There’s a gentle nod to the late 50s/early 60s on this record, and it is done in such a careful but divine way. I think it is just one of the most beautiful records to have come out this year. My Lover, A Strange Her closes the EP and it is such a wonderful, wonderful song. For me it really shows us just how great Shaun is as a writer. He writes poetry that comes from the soul. Aside from the sax on the record, Shaun plays everything on The Lonely Hunter. His all has gone into this record and all it entails. It is a masterpiece, there’s no denying that.

Shaun explores his emotions and general human curiosities on this record, and he does it in a way that makes you feel he’s gone into your head and let your secrets out. If I could force the world to listen to this record, I bloody well would.

Tonight, Shaun will be treating the Shacklewell Arms (best venue in London) to the sounds of Hemi Hemingway and supporting him will be the exceptional Big Dipper. A dream line-up! The show is sold out, but hopefully these two rascals will take this show around the country soon!

The Lonely Hunter is out now via PNKSLM Recordings (and also Rough Trade.)





MIND RAYS.

22 02 2017

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Sometimes you just need to listen to something that feels like a massive jab to the face. I’ve become more and more restless but also annoyingly tired, so I need to listen to something that fits my mood. I don’t want to move but I don’t want to sit still. I want to listen to something that heightens all of this because nothing else will cut it.

Belgium is a beautiful place. I fell in love with Brussels twice. I spent a lot of money in a record shop there, twice. I could have happily spent all my time in there. It’s one of the best places I’ve ever been. Peaceful and timeless. Mind Rays are from Belgium- their sound isn’t peaceful. Well, to some it isn’t but for me? It sort of is. It’s what I need right now.

This Ghent based band have been around for some time, and upon first listen you can easily picture them thrashing about on some dingy stage in a sweat infused basement bar where all the outcasts unite- the best kind of place. You can picture them injuring each other and themselves as they flail about on stage, how much they bleed from smacking their face into a mic stand justifies how good the show was. Their sound is brutal and loud. If you want a label then I guess you can have Garage Rock with a bit of Punk. I’d just call it a riot to be honest.

Their new record, Nerve Endings is out next month and it’s probably going to be one of the most rowdy records you’ll hear all year. They make it easier to deal with your frustrations of daily life and being a bit of a loner, but that’s probably just me. These kinds of things just get you through. I was going to go to the gym tonight, but I just want to find more bands like Mind Rays and get totally lost in them.

Mind Rays make the kind of music to just straight up melt your face. Their earlier stuff is slightly less aggressive but only slightly. It’s all the right kind of loud and beastly. They make the kind of music that makes you morph into some kind of scary monster that isn’t to be fucked with, lurking in the shadows. I have no idea what their live shows are like, and I can only imagine that they are just as lively on stage as they are on record. Their songs don’t feel like something that has been recorded in a studio, you feel like you are listening to a band practicing and lobbing their all into it. You really pick up on the blood, sweat and maybe a few tears. And screams.

They’ll melt your mind, they’ll awaken the rusty and sleepy parts of you. They’ll make you want to slam your body into stuff, they’ll make you want to throw things around. They’ll make you want to act like a rebellious swine, and that’s one of the best things a band can do to you. They’ll lure you out of your comfort zone and before you know it, you’re comfort zone is going to be immersing yourself in this mind altering and thought bending sound. There are some bands that you just cannot get enough of, and for me, Mind Rays are easily one of those bands.





SHITKID.

22 11 2016

 

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Sometimes you need to listen to something that others may deem as uncomfortable. Mainly because they are far too uptight and conservative. Don’t surround yourself with those people, they’ll only try ruin you to make you like them. Before you know it, bland sounds will echo in your ear. Stick your middle finger up to them, and go about your day. A band that are perfect to do this to are Gothenburg based ShitKid.

The support band for The Vacant Lots on Sunday were ShitKid. They had the tough task of playing to only a handful of us, but I was hooked. They claimed to be hungover but that did not stop them from putting on a great show. Their sound reminds you of a band who are having fun making a wealth of noise in their cramped bedroom waiting for the world to listen. The world will listen, it just takes time for some to catch up.

What I adore about ShitKid is that they have this slumped sound. It is effortlessly woeful and the three of them just have this excellent Punk approach. Some bands are evidently trying too hard to capture a certain sound, but Shit Kid make it look so easy. They make you want to make your own noise and that for me, is enough. If you can get that feeling across then I reckon it is a job well done.

From their set on Sunday, I really loved their performance of Whyte and Poobrain.  I think they are one of those bands that you’ve really got to see live to get it. You get the attitude and meaning when you see them perform the songs live. I am that irritating person who has to always see the support band but I went to the show on my own on Sunday so it was fine. In this case I think I proved my idea right that you should always check out the support. I enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed The Vacant Lots.

It is really no surprise that ShitKid are on the highly influential label, PNKSLM Recordings. They are home to a lot of bands I love and Shit Kid is most definitely the perfect home for them. Their songs make you want to stay home, gaze out the window and do a whole load of nothing. It’s totally fine to have those days where you just want to waste them away. I feel like it all the time, but the doctor has told me it’s depression. Don’t go down my route, kids.

The EP was all done by  Åsa, and ShitKid is pretty much just her bar her live shows where she has 2 equally talented friends with her. You really pick up on the shyness in her voice and lyrics on the EP, and I think that makes the music so endearing and so easy to get into. I think this is the EP that was recorded on a semi broken computer and this DIY mind-set is so evident on the recordings. For me having that kind of approach to music makes a band more accessible and easy to just love.

They’re playing The Old Blue Last tomorrow night (23rd) and tickets are only £5.